Kurt Capewell is set to suffer the unkindest and unluckiest of cuts when he falls off the Cronulla bench for Sunday’s NRL grand final against Melbourne.
Capewell has been an important figure in both of the Sharks’ finals win so far in 2016. Especially in their qualifying final victory over Canberra, when he was forced to play 73 minutes due to an early concussion to Wade Graham, making 36 tackles and 111m from 15 runs in the process.
But Sam Tagataese’s recovery from a shoulder injury, suffered in round 22, to be fit for the decider means someone has to make way. And that someone is likely the 23-year-old Capewell, who has impressed in his first four NRL games this season.
Unfortunately for Capewell the case for bringing back interchange prop Tagataese is overwhelming for coach Shane Flanagan.
When fit, the 29-year-old Samoan international is crucial for the Sharks’ go-forward and he played in each game of the club’s record 15-match winning streak earlier this year before suffering the injury.
Capewell has been named as 18th man for the decider.
Flanagan has been tight-lipped on the final make up of his side, but barring any flare-up Tagataese will be there.
Skipper Paul Gallen has pushed for the inclusion of Tagataese, if fit, but admitted it would a tough luck for Capewell.
“It it a tough call for Flanno, but it is a good one to have,” Gallen said.
Capewell would tread a similar path to Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa in 2013.
Prime Minister’s XIII representative Napa played a leading role in the Roosters’ late-season charge that year. But he missed out on a grand final berth when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returned from suspension and Luke O’Donnell recovered from a hamstring complaint.